The rich are different from you or I. Except when they ain’t.
The by-product of New York-area real estate demand isn’t just limited to staggering price tags. It also tends to create cachet with areas that other, less intense markets might consider just plain peculiar. Case-in-point: Montauk Shores, a trailer park with million-dollar listings, billionaire residents, and a parking lot filled with six-figure cars. A stone’s throw from Andy Warhol’s beach getaway and Dick Cavett’s famous estate and situated along Ditch Plains Beach, Montauk Shores —“the park,” as it’s familiarly known throughout the Hamptons—got its start as a modest campground for surfers and beach bunnies, becoming a co-operatively owned mobile home condominium park in 1976, before its recent reinvention as a real estate juggernaut.
Peter and Lois Moore, husband-and-wife brokers with The Corcoran Group, have had several exclusive listings in Montauk Shores over the years, so AD caught up with them to discuss property trends in what has become a heated real estate enclave. “About seven or eight years ago, these trailers became rather popular, and the waterfront lots came to be acquired by high-net-worth individuals,” Peter explains. For units along the water, the Moores say to expect a seven-figure price tag, while lots a few rows inland tend to hover between a half-million to a million. “It’s been a steady climb,” Peter says. “We have seen more consistency in pricing on an upward curve than we have in other residential areas.” Because of its proximity to the beach, the units have been subject to another only-in-the-Hamptons real estate trend. “Oftentimes, they’re second homes for buyers who don’t stay in them; they just use them as beach cabanas,” Peter explains.
7 figures? Okay, I come from a long line of confirmed trailer trash on my mom’s side. I have friends who have lived in trailer parks, and have whiled away many a pleasant hour hanging out in their homes. I have lived in a trailer park my own self.
Suffice it to say, then, that I have no problem whatsoever with the mobile-home lifestyle. So I feel qualified to state with perfect confidence that the article’s accompanying photo shows what is definitely a very nice trailer park—EXTREMELY nice, probably the nicest I’ve ever seen. Neat, well-kept, organized, clean. No sign of the decay, neglect, and chaotic clutter common to such places.
The first trailer I lived in had been my mom’s years before, a custom job she purchased when my folks split up in 1979. She sited the trailer on land bought by her folks way back in 1937, around eight-ten acres that my grandparents farmed right up until my grandpa dropped dead of a heart attack on his way home from an all-night poker game, in 1976. After living there for several years, my mom moved into the renovated farmhouse that still shares the family plot with that old trailer, which her sister and brother-in-law took over in their turn. They happily lived there for the rest of their lives. My aunt Sarah went first, her old man Rabbit (actually Hubert, which he just hated) succumbing to his overwhelming grief shortly after.
The old trailer sat empty for several years after that, gradually going to hell just as all houses will when left to sit unoccupied for long periods. Then, when my own marriage blew up in my face, I moved in. After I’d been in the place a few months, I was struck with the idea of getting hold of some iron pipe and fabricating a submarine periscope, to be mounted up on the rusty roof just for giggles. Unfortunately, I never did it. My uncle Larry bought the house and land from my mom and stepdad years back. An old WestPac Navy man, he moved his Filipino wife and her young ‘uns in, and they live there still. One of his stepsons is in my mom’s old trailer now, having done extensive renovations and repairs with assistance from his American wife, who’s a dab hand at projects of that nature.
I’m perfectly fine with trailers. But I don’t care HOW nice the trailer (or the park it sits in) is, or how much family history is wrapped up in it, trailers are basically just cheap tin cans—flimsy, cramped domiciles shaped exactly like your standard box of saltines. Not very many people move into a trailer intending to stay there forever. The things are only built to last for around twenty years or so anyway. After that, the place will start to cave in around your ears, with leaky roofs, drafty windows, holes in the floors, sagging cabinets, and such-like suddenly cropping up as if they were on a strict schedule.
Standard trailer doors are nothing but two thin layers of aluminum over a styrofoam core. Any healthy pre-teen could easily kick his way through one without straining himself, and I’m sure plenty of them have. The fixtures are all cut to odd-ball sizes and dimensions, and you can’t just trot on off to Lowes when you need to replace a window or a sink. There are mobile-home stores expressly dealing in that stuff, at surprisingly high prices, too.
A trailer is NEVER an “investment.” Not even close. It’s a product with a depreciation rate higher than a three-owner Yugo’s, one which appeals exclusively to the niche-est of niche markets. A trailer is typically either A) a temporary stand-in for the real house you hope to step up to later; B) a crash pad for bottom-of-the-societal-barrel types to get roaring drunk in on weekends, and/or cook meth in; or C) a place where destitute older people go to die. Also scattered in amongst the aforementioned categories are miscellaneous misfits, ne’er do wells, and recently-paroled convicts. Then you have the uncharacterizable weirdos who can never quite shake off the nagging feeling that they wound up there by mistake—like, say, myself. Those last often think of themselves as being IN the trailer park, but not OF the trailer park. It’s a comforting thought, but they’re probably wrong.
“Half a million to a million” for a trailer? Proof positive that some people have more money than sense…but at those rates, not for long. Maybe a nice, long visit from a true trailer-park maven like Ricky might wise those spendthrifts up to a thing or two.